China’s domestically built large cruise ships drive rebound of cruise industry

Photo shows the Adora Magic City, China's first domestically-built large cruise ship. (Photo by Ji Haixin/People's Daily Online)
Photo shows the Adora Magic City, China's first domestically-built large cruise ship. (Photo by Ji Haixin/People's Daily Online)

By Xie Weiqun

At about 11 a.m., May 26, China’s first domestically-built large cruise ship, the Adora Magic City, berthed at a cruise terminal in Baoyang Road, Baoshan district of Shanghai, preparing for its 35th voyage since its commercial maiden journey on January 1 this year.

After a while, passengers started boarding the cruise ship, passing through customs procedures and immigration control, and were warmly greeted by crew members. 

The Adora Magic City has received about 150,000 passengers so far since its maiden voyage, with an average load factor exceeding 95 percent, said Liu Hui, general manager of CSSC Cruise Technology Development Co., Ltd. (CCTD), which is the operator of the Adora Magic City and a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). This figure indicated a good start for the cruise ship, Liu added.

The cruise industry features a strong catalytic effect, a long industrial chain, and a high degree of internationalization. According to Liu, the cruise ship industry encompasses a full chain of processes, from R&D to design, shipbuilding, operations, and supply chain – every step is crucial. 

So far, the CCTD has developed an industrial cluster in Shanghai, covering the entire cruise ship system from R&D and design to final assembly, supply chain, and operations, Liu added.

Regarding R&D and design, the CCTD, together with Italian shipbuilder company Fincantieri, has established a joint venture CSSC-Fincantieri Cruise Industry Development Ltd. to work on the design of cruise ships. This has enhanced the company’s capabilities to offer comprehensive cruise ship design services and provide project management support to its shipyards. 

In terms of supply chain development, the CCTD has fully acquired German cruise interior company R&M, establishing R&M Cruise Interior Technologies (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. This has made it the first Chinese general contractor capable of independently completing public area outfitting for large cruise ships.

“Compared to regular home furnishings, cruise ship interiors are subject to more stringent requirements. For example, the materials for making sofas on cruise ships must be lighter and more environmentally friendly,” said Gu Bin, deputy general manager of R&M Cruise Interior Technologies (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.

To enhance its cruise operation capabilities, the CCTD set up a full-capability cruise operating company Adora Cruises Ltd. in 2018, continuously absorbing advanced management experience from international cruise companies and improving its operations and management.

The operating team of Adora Cruises Ltd. comprises globally sourced talents with extensive industry experience, which has helped the company achieve substantial development in areas like marketing, product and hotel management, maritime management, and new ship supervision. 

To drive the development of the cruise industry, Shanghai has provided support in manufacturing and port operations, and constructed a ship supply base.

China’s cruise industry is marching towards market-based, internationalized and professional development. 

The Adora Magic City boasts 1,300 crew members from over 30 countries. Around 8 percent of the cruise ship’s passengers are from overseas, originating from more than 20 countries. 

The cruise ship has more than 20 international suppliers, and over 1,000 Chinese and foreign manufacturers were involved in its design and construction, which has incubated and cultivated key enterprises in cruise R&D and design, final assembly, and core supporting facilities. This has driven the development of relevant industries such as manufacturing, construction, energy, and transportation, effectively boosting economic circulation.

It is reported that advance ticket sales for the Adora Magic City have extended all the way to September this year. It is leading a new fashion trend among Chinese consumers. 

According to statistics released by China’s Ministry of Transport on April 29, since the beginning of this year, more than 10 international cruise ships have been operating at Chinese ports. Together, they handled over 190,000 passengers in the first quarter of this year. In particular, the Adora Magic City and Mediterranea operated by Adora Cruises Ltd. accounted for around 70 percent of the total passenger volume. It is expected that the Chinese cruise market will continue to maintain a steady recovery.

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